I guess every blogger goes through a dry period where he or she cannot find any material that is interesting to post. The past month has been so for me. In the past, I would post just about anything – yoga, life, self-help, photography, etc. Nowadays I just go about doing things associated with these but don’t feel that flow from within me to blog. Why? Past two weeks I started on a new project working off from downtown Chicago. It is a totally different thing to work from a major city downtown. First off, my hotel was at least about a mile away the first week and I couldn’t get a hotel within the city for the second week. I found one at Midway airport, and Midway is about nine miles away. With the heavy traffic travel times can be long and Uber-time can become as expensive as a taxi. On the aside, during peak hours, Ubers charge you more than normal – in what is called as the surge-charge. It can be 1.5x or even three times the normal fare. So Ubers aren’t always attractive. So I decided to explore the CTA (Chicago Transport Authority) – the local transit system of buses and trains. From Midway airport, it is about a five minute or more walk to the train station. You can purchase what is called as a Ventra card and you can fill it up with passes or credit to use as you go. I bought the 24-hour pass that cost me $10. With this pass, you can go anywhere on the CTA without having to worry about crossing multiple transit zones. Taking the subway or the train is always very interesting. You can see people from all walks of life – from the young to the old, from the student to the professional typing away on the laptop, from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary. There are those who are energetic like the bunch of young girls speaking hispanic who were all excited about something I don’t know as I couldn’t understand the language. They were just chatting away and laughing while some of the other folks were just tired at the end of the day. You can see the tiredness that has set upon them in their overall demeanor. Their face tell a lot of stories if you happen to read them. One women was zoned out probably thinking of her future or her family’s. That worry has taken a toll on her body and she looked more worried about getting up and off at her stop than enjoy the life that went on inside the train. On one of the buses, an African-American man started a conversation with another lady and they started talking loudly about someone they happened to know. There were a couple of people who were just surprised to bump into each other after a while on the bus. Within a matter of minutes they came up-to-speed on their lives with the few on the bus as well. And then there are the neighborhoods you pass through. Invariably there is the ugly graffiti that just destroys the landscape. You can see this for miles and miles. I wonder those who paint graffiti – what they were thinking. Is it art to just paint their names or some curse-word on someone else’s or the public building. They don’t understand one thing for sure – what it takes to build than to destroy as President Obama had pointed out on the onset of one of the terrorist attacks. Hence they keep progressing very little in life while others who build move on. Coming back to my time working in downtown, taking the bus from the hotel to the midway to the nearest train station was much easier than taking the hotel shuttle though it took about 10 minutes extra. This was because the CTA bus would stop right outside the train station, while the hotel’s shuttle would stop at the departures door at Midway and it was a 6-8 minute brisk walk to the same station. Then there is the walk from the train station to work once you get off. You get sucked into the crowd and you unknowingly move with the stream. People are just rushing through to work or from work – you would think why don’t they have a few extra moments and enjoy that walk along? The routine was reverse in the evening after work. Only thing was I would have to walk or take a bus to dinner before getting back to the hotel. The area surrounding Midway isn’t very appealing to walk or stray around except right around the hotel center. And there is plenty of traffic which makes you stop at the end of each block for a minute or more. I went to an Aldi listed on Google maps only to find out it wasn’t Aldi but a ‘More for less’ store. I walked out of the store not buying anything as I wasn’t sure if the items on the rack were within their expiry date or not. They certainly were cheap.
All, in all I realized that working in downtown Chicago can be very tiresome. My head was foggy even after a good night sleep after flying back home. I just wasn’t sure what took the toll on me. There were a couple of pluses of the engagement – activity and food. I walked a lot and felt active. Secondly, there is no dearth of places to eat. Chicago is another town which is very vegetarian and health-friendly. Naansense, Native Food Cafe, Vermilion, the Vegan front at the Metra sub-station below 500 W Madison, Lfye Place, Blake’s pizza and the list goes on and on. There are still many more places I could try out this week.